VIOLENCE BECAME endemic and crime skyrocketed in Jamaica in the years following Independence; and has remained extraordinarily high since then.
Crime analyst Dudley Allen noted in the 1980s that the country's violent crime rates doubled (and then some) during the first 12 years following Independence.
From 1962 to 1974, manslaughter rates increased by 167 per cent, robbery by 771 per cent, rape by 160 per cent, felonious wounding by 137 per cent, and shooting with intent by 1,350 per cent.
What caused the figures to climb so much? The main explanation lies in the social contradictions, the cross-cutting processes inherent to our transition to Independence, economic self-reliance and modernisation.
Here are some ways we can address this problem as we look forward to another 50 years.
Weeding out the 'bad guys' (i.e., the controlling dons and their henchmen) means reasserting state authority, combined with efforts to reinstall services and build trust in neglected areas.
Youth clubs, neighbourhood watches and NGO networks that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit have had the effect of promoting security and resilience. These should be encouraged.
Urban renewal and slum upgrading. We can build on innovations taken in the 1980s and 1990s by governments in South Asia to regularise ownership and to identify innovative ways of working with private actors to harness the unrealised potential of informal settlements.
Inducements to move out of the city. This project would 'redeploy' out of Kingston willing participants, and engage them in social entrepreneurial agriculture in rural Jamaica.